I enjoy building bicycle wheels. I enjoy bringing used wheels back to a state of health. So I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a garage business: Old Guy Wheels.
Lots of challenges to doing something so insane. Competing against commercial wheel builders. Figuring out product liability. Cost of goods sold. Access to wholesale parts and components. Marketing. Taxes and business licenses, et cetera.
Hobby or business?
Yes. Or no. When you declare a home business and try to take advantage of provisions in the tax code, this is the core question that the IRS asks. Is it in reality a business or is it a glorified hobby? And that is how I’m approaching this plan. At first it will be an expanding hobby that eventually may become a business.
I will start with repairing and rehabilitating used wheels from Yellow Bike. I won’t be selling these. Think of it as a satellite facility to the Yellow Bike shop. My time and tools as volunteer effort. This will expand my experience in dealing with spokes, hubs and rims.
I will then start to build new wheels. Probably build a few on spec and try to sell them at Frakenbike or Craigslist or whatever. Hopefully I can find some people who need a new wheel and want something locally hand assembled. I will also offer truing and repairing.
If I see interest and demand for my wheels and services, I will formally establish the business and move toward obtaining wholesale parts to keep costs down. This will require liability insurance and whatever business licenses I need.
Hobby into business.
Am I Qualified?
Good question. At this point I consider myself a novice. I’ve built 6 wheels so far. Four of those are still operating on my bikes. I’ve repaired about 20 or 30 wheels. And over the last two years I’ve guided dozens of people through wheel truing and simple repairs at Yellow Bike. I think I build a pretty good 3 cross tangential wheel.
At some point I may seek certification. UBI wheel course is a possibility. That would certainly help with liability insurance and applying to distributors for wholesale access.
Maybe this goes nowhere and remains a simple hobby. Maybe I make a little money. Just received notice that the initial equipment has shipped: truing stand and a couple of tools. We shall see.